Nintendo is no stranger when it comes to supply shortages. At the very least, the Nintendo Switch itself has a fairly decent reason for being scarce: The manufacturer they get their flash memory from is experiencing a shortage and companies like Apple are paying a lot more for bigger orders, giving them priority. Essentially, Nintendo has to take a number and wait in line. The controllers, on the other hand, are not usually something you expect to be hard to find... but they are.
When I got my Nintendo Switch on launch day, I got the regular version with gray controllers because it looked sleeker. As the months went on, I thought it would be a good idea to buy enough controllers to form 4 full controllers, so that’s 8 joy-con in total, and I already have two because the Switch comes with two. I then decided that I wanted to color code the controllers. Back in the day when the Nintendo 64 was still the talk of the town, I would go to a friends house to play and he had multiple controllers, each one a different color. You always knew which controller was yours because the color was different. I did this again with my Wii U. I bought Wiimotes and Nunchuks of different colors so people could tell them apart. So for Switch, I wanted to do the same thing, and it’s entirely possible because as of right now, there are 6 different colors to choose from. The default matte gray, neon blue, neon red, neon yellow, neon green, and neon pink. As of this writing, the gray, blue, red, and yellow controllers can be bought in bundles of two of the same color. Originally, the red and blue controllers were only available as a mixed bundle. The pink and green controllers are currently only a part of a Splatoon 2 bundle and not sold separately either individually or as a bundle.
I digress, I wanted to buy a blue set, a red set, and a yellow set, but unless I’m willing to pay a small fortune, I can’t. As of this writing, the blue and red sets are out of stock virtually everywhere except for Ebay, and the yellow set is retailing for between $80 and $130. The former price is to be exepected because that’s how much the bundle normally costs, but the fact that it can get up to $130 at some retailers just goes to show how little stock there actually is. It should probably also be mentioned that the mixed blue/red bundle is also out of stock far more often than the default gray bundle. Third party sellers are more than aware of this fact as joy-con pairs, be it all blue, all red, or a mix, are sold for $100+ on Ebay. It’s a lot like the NES Classic where, once it was revealed that stock was low, prices jumped and scalpers took advantage of it. I recently gave in and bought an NES Classic for $140, which isn’t too bad considering it normally goes for $200+ on the gray market.
The weird part about all of this though is that I can’t figure out why the controllers would be this scarce. I mentioned before that the Switch itself has a fair reason for being scarce. Doesn’t change the fact that it sucks for those who actually want one, but can’t find one, especially since they sell out almost immediately regardless of how much stock a retailer actually gets, but their reasoning is sound. But these controllers don’t seem to contain any parts, at least to my knowledge, that would make them difficult to produce. Of course, the gray controllers being almost constantly in stock lends credence to the idea that it isn’t a production problem. It’s really only the colored controllers that seem to be rare. Is Nintendo witholding them to sell alongside new batches of the Switch? Is something up with whatever they use to color the controllers? Are they treating them as limited edition items? The world may never know, and it’s frustrating.